Jordan Halts Talks on $15 Billion Deal for Israeli Gas

Jordan suspended talks to import natural gas from Israel from Noble Energy Inc. and will sign an agreement with BG Group Plc to buy Gaza Strip gas.

The kingdom halted negotiations “recently” after Israeli authorities said they may move to prevent a regional “monopoly” for Noble, according to Jamal Qammouh, head of Jordan’s Lower House energy committee. Israel’s antitrust regulator is reconsidering a decision to let a group led by Noble develop the country’s two biggest natural gas fields. Inbar Dovev, a spokeswoman for the company, declined to comment by phone today.

“We were informed that there are differences between Israel and Noble Energy and we cannot proceed with talks until we know which side will develop the gas field in Israel,” Qammouh said in a phone interview from Amman.

Partners in Israel’s Leviathan field, including Houston-based Noble, and units of Delek Group Ltd. and Ratio Oil Exploration 1992 LP signed a preliminary deal Sept. 3 to sell gas to Jordan’s National Electric Power Co. over 15 years. Noble had signed a $771 million agreement in February to supply gas to Jordan-based Arab Potash Co. starting 2016. Leviathan and neighboring Tamar in the Mediterranean Sea are among the biggest natural gas finds in recent years and have provided Israel with enough fuel for decades of energy self-sufficiency and export. Together, they hold an estimated 29 trillion cubic feet.

Pipeline Bombings

Jordan, which imports almost all its energy needs, wants to secure supply after repeated disruptions to gas imports from Egypt as a result of pipeline bombings in Sinai. Jordan, the Middle East’s smallest economy after Bahrain, is one of two Arab countries that have signed a peace agreement with Israel.

Jordan will sign an agreement with BG Group Plc in the first quarter to buy gas from fields offshore the Gaza Strip, Mohammad Hamed, Jordan’s Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, said in an interview in Amman. According to the agreement, National Electric Power will import 150 million to 180 million cubic feet a day starting the end of 2017, he said.

“This is a very important deal as gas imports from Egypt are still halted,” he said.

Lachlan Johnston, a spokesman for BG Group, said the company had no comment.

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